[OPE-L:8292] Re: abstract labour: its measure

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@t-online.de)
Date: Tue Jan 07 2003 - 16:36:39 EST

Cologne 07-Jan-2003

Re: [OPE-L:8286]

Christopher Arthur schrieb  Mon, 6 Jan 2003 22:43:40 +0000:

> ME "The first step is to learn to see that the measure of abstract use or
> > abstract labour as it is practically brought about by universal commodity
> > exchange is not time, but money itself, which mediates commodity exchange.
> > That is, the measure itself is brought about by the abstract social
> > relation."
> The possibility of commensuration is brought about through the social
> relation but  the measure itself is not identical with this mediation.
> To say the measure of abstract labour is money is surely a category mistake
> since money is a thing and labour an activity.

I'd say that the measure of abstract labour as value-generating (what it is
worth) is money, but only in a retrospective sense of what 'comes about' in the
attempt to realize value in money (see below).

> The only way of closing the
> gap is to assume abstract labour is identical with  embodied labour and
> embodied labour identical with value. Then one can derive, working
> forwards, that the measure of V is LT or, working backwards, that the
> measure of AL is money. Both equally fallacious. To say M measures L
> involves the further category mistake of conflating living/reified L with
> concrete/abstract L.
> This mistake probably arises from interpreting ch 1 as simple commodity
> production such that only in exchange does labour become abstract while in
> production it remains concrete. However once production is located as
> capitalist production i.e as value in process, then the same labour
> activity is concrete as UV productive and abstract as V productive. (K as
> an abstract totality exploits L as an abstract totality) Abstracting from
> concrete labour leaves pure motion whose measure is time (see previous mail
> for why time is of the essence). When this becoming of value is transformed
> into being then the measure changes of course even if there is some
> proportionality.
> Another reason for confusion may arise from the formdeterminaton of
> production by valorisation. With the transformation, the value-
> productivity of labour time is redetermined such that each specific labour
> 'counts' diferently. But the unit of the count is still time albeit that
> some times are more equal than others.
> Compare: the same mass weighs differently on the earth and the moon but its
> dimension is unchanged. Under stipulated conditions the unit mass turns
> into the unit weight, just as under stipulated conditions (average org
> compos) the unit LT turns into the unit V.
> Cheers
> Chris A

I don't see that value is created or produced at all except in the retrospective
sense (with the benefit of hindsight) that we say that, once the product has
been sold, the labour performed (measured in time if you like) was worth
such-and-such an amount of money. Rather than being created or produced, value
'comes about' in exchange in a determinate price.

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